Friday, October 25, 2013

October 2013 FIFA ranking used for World Cup final draw

Yes, a bit of old news, but I have been really busy both at home and at the office, then had a short vacation.

Hats off to FIFA about announcing this before the last match day. Maybe next time it will be known before the preliminary draw.

Here's the official media release from FIFA.

Regarding the procedure for the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, the seeded teams (Pot 1) will include Brazil and the seven top-ranked teams. The remaining pots will be based on geographic and sports criteria. The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of October 2013 (to be released on 17 Oct. 2013) will be used as opposed to the November ranking as the latter would give the teams involved in the upcoming play-off games an unfair advantage.

The seeds are almost set, as FIFA have announced:

The distribution of teams in Pot 1 for the World Cup Final Draw on 6 December is as follows: Brazil, together with Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland are definitely in Pot 1. If Uruguay win the intercontinental play-off against Jordan, they will also go into the first pot. However, if Jordan win, the decimal points difference between the Netherlands (1135.95) and Italy (1135.61) will see the Dutch take the last place in Pot 1.

Netherlands: Most people look at the draw vs. Estonia as the match that lost the seeding for the Netherlands. However, you can also point the finger to the 2 June friendlies (Indonesia and China PR). Without them, the Netherlands would have had 1212 points and would have been 100% seeded for the final draw - even with the draw against Estonia.

Italy: Again, drawing with Armenia seems the culprit. Perhaps, we should look at bit further back, at friendlies against Haiti and San Marino. Without either of them, Italy would have had around 1160 points and would have been seeded.

England: I wrote them an e-mail in April, warning them about the impact friendlies will have on their seeding chances. Of course, they ignored it. There's also this piece by Jonathan Wilson in the Guardian.

The distribution of teams in Pot 1 for the European play-off draw will be the four highest-positioned teams, which are confirmed as follows: Portugal, Greece, Croatia and Ukraine. Pot 2 will include France, Sweden, Romania and Iceland

Sweden: On March 26th, 2013, they played a friendly away to Slovakia - the final score was 0:0. With a win in that match Sweden would have had 874 points in the October ranking and would have been seeded at the expense of Ukraine.

France: If they had played and won against Mali, Cape Verde Islands or Iran on 11 October instead of Australia, France would have had more points than Ukraine and of course, they would have been seeded.

How about actually taking a bit of time to study the way the ranking is computed?

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. If Netherlands is not seeded because they played two friendlies in far east (those games fullfilled all possible purposes of friendly matches), then noone shouldn't blame Dutch FA, but the list.
    I totally understand England FA ignore your email. It's not up to them to choose opponents according to some mathematical formula, it's up to FIFA to choose optimal way to ensure fair seeding system.
    The situation where NED, ITA and even ENG were not seeded because of friendly matches is more then clear, and we can only imagine the consequences of drawing eg BRA,NED,FRA,CIV group, not to mention group with SUI (with all respect to them).
    I honestly think that your great energy, instead of suggesting FA's who should them play with in order to gain some fictional points, should be used rather to develope and offer more fair system, especially for WC finals seeding.

    1. Hi sasha - there's the Elo rating.

      I wouldn't say great energy. I haven't had time for this in the last month :)

    2. Sasha, I don't agree with this "It's not up to them to choose opponents according to some mathematical formula, it's up to FIFA to choose optimal way to ensure fair seeding system."

      Of course FIFA's seeding is flawy, but any confederation is expected to understand the rules of the game they are playing! Even if these rules are not good.If I would work for any of these national confederations I would try to get advantage on this ranking rules, instead of just ignoring them.

  2. It's a common fact that - under the current ranking system - it is most of the time not beneficial for top teams to play friendlies ranking-wise.

    What would you suggest Edgar (or anybody),
    - stop playing friendlies (as a top team) if the system does not change,
    - stop taking friendlies into account the way it is now (how to alter the system then ?)
    or stop taking friendlies into account at all ?

    1. 1.stop taking friendlies into account for any seeding, they are played for preparation purposes. In this case, Netherlands is punished for having a nice sport event in Indonesia
      2.Do not use FIFA ranking list to order teams from different confederations (different time of continental competitions has a great impact on ranking)

      UEFA seeding system for instance now is not so good as it can be because of impact of WC qualifiers seeding (eg Norway situation).

      WC seeding system should be combination of points (or and places) gained for last WC, WCq, and last continental cups and preliminaries (perhaps with different weights), and it should impact all pots, not only seeding one. Moreover I think that 2 best teams can not be drawn to play before finals (or best 4 before semis), and now they can meet in QF simply oredred by draw. (Eg for 2014 draw should not allow potential QF BRA-ESP).

      With current system, it seems that FIFA intentionaly makes better chances for group of death (in 2006 they directly created it) and even big games in early elimination phase.

      It is not difficult to make simple seeding system and with fair intention, FIFA doesn't want it that way. I only pointed out that FA's shouldn't adjust their friendlies schedule to the FIFA's ranking list, but to fight against their importance.

  3. Here's the top 30 of the October 2013 ranking if friendlies were completely excluded from the calculations (in parentheses the difference in position with the current October 2013 ranking):

    1 Spain 2127 (-)
    2 Brazil 2012 (+9)
    3 Germany 1902 (-1)
    4 Argentina 1727 (-1)
    5 Netherlands 1652 (+3)
    6 Italy 1641 (+2)
    7 Belgium 1590 (-2)
    8 Chile 1577 (+4)
    9 Switzerland 1471 (-2)
    10 Uruguay 1433 (-4)
    11 USA 1419 (+2)
    12 England 1398 (-2)
    13 Portugal 1393 (+1)
    14 Colombia 1378 (-10)
    15 France 1255 (+6)
    16 Denmark 1228 (+10)
    17 Greece 1227 (-2)
    18 Bosnia-Herzegovina 1199 (-2)
    19 Ghana 1128 (+4)
    20 Russia 1111 (-1)
    21 Croatia 1103 (-3)
    21 Mexico 1103 (+3)
    23 Cote d'Ivoire 1078 (-6)
    24 Sweden 1033 (+1)
    24 Serbia 1033 (+4)
    26 Slovenia 983 (+4)
    27 Ecuador 967 (-5)
    28 Venezuela 959 (+9)
    29 Egypt 954 (+22)
    30 Ukraine 937 (-10)

    1. Thank you both Edgar and Ed. I really think that this list clears up why friendlies should not be involved, and on the other hand seems a little unfair to compare teams from different confederations, although this list could offer very fair pots for World Cup in my opinion.
      Also notice actual play-off pair Ghana-Egypt (2nd and 3rd african team from this list, one (Egypt) will miss WC) In Europe France would be seeded instead of Ukraine so no changes there.

  4. How about this for an idea on the seedings for the world cup...

    An average of all competitive rankings points since the commencement of the 2010 world cup finals up to the completion of the 2014 qualifiers regardless of how long ago the matches were played. This should give a good indication of a nation's competitiveness over the 4 year cycle.

    Therefore, leave out the friendlies, ignore the depreciation of value due to the age of the match.

    This has the benefit of, obviously ignoring friendlies, acknowledging all recent achievements, doesn't disadvantage nations whose confederation tournaments are older than others.

    (The same theory could apply when determining seedings at the start of qualification. i.e. use all points acquired since the start of the last qualification campaign.)

    Anyone capable of doing this calculation?

  5. Nigel,

    here's the top 30 of the October 2013 ranking if only competitive (non-friendly) matches from the start of WC2010 would count unweigthed (in parentheses the difference in position with the current October 2013 ranking):

    1 Spain 4718 (-)
    2 Germany 4172 (-)
    3 Argentina 3957 (-)
    4 Netherlands 3599 (+4)
    5 Brazil 3313 (+6)
    6 Italy 3239 (+2)
    7 Uruguay 3182 (-1)
    8 Chile 2978 (+4)
    9 England 2959 (+1)
    10 Switzerland 2783 (-3)
    11 Portugal 2695 (+3)
    12 Denmark 2665 (+14)
    13 Greece 2650 (+2)
    14 USA 2626 (-1)
    15 Belgium 2475 (-10)
    16 Russia 2395 (+3)
    17 France 2381 (+4)
    18 Mexico 2380 (+6)
    19 Croatia 2343 (-1)
    20 Ghana 2342 (+3)
    21 Colombia 2295 (-17)
    22 Japan 2238 (+22)
    23 Cote d'Ivoire 2175 (-6)
    24 Bosnia-Herzegovina 2159 (-8)
    25 Sweden 2049 (-)
    26 Serbia 2008 (+2)
    27 Paraguay 1946 (+22)
    28 Slovenia 1807 (+2)
    29 Norway 1797 (+18)
    30 Hungary 1788 (+13)

    The Netherlands, Italy and Chile would replace Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland as seeds for the WC draw.

  6. Thanks Ed. That's excellent. Chile surprises me otherwise those seedings are probably closer to what most people expect them to look like.

  7. If Ukraine beat France as is looking more possible now, do Ukraine simply take France's place as lowest ranked UEFA team or is another NT affected?

    1. if Ukraine beats France, they should take the lowest ranked UEFA team sport unless either one of Croatia, Portugal or Greece fail to get through as Island, Sweden and Romania are lower.

    2. I think France should thank me for tempting fate!